England have secured a spot in the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games netball semi-finals after an impressive 85-31 win against Wales.
The Roses were relentless as they put in a dominant display – scoring their highest tally of the competition so far – to make it four from four.
Tracey Neville made two changes from the starting 7 in Sunday’s hard-fought win against Uganda with Serena Guthrie starting at C and captain Ama Agbeze at GD.
The Roses absolutely flew out the traps at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre and established a 6-1 lead within the opening five minutes.
Neville’s side were putting the squeeze on Wales from the off and Guthrie displayed her athleticism and skill to fly in, pick up possession, and set her side off down court with the ball eventually coming to Helen Housby, who coolly finished.
With Wales struggling to break through the experienced defensive duo of Geva Mentor and Ama Agbeze, they made an early change in attack.
Housby took England to 13-2 with seven to play before popping the ball off to Jo Harten, who added another, but Cara-Lea Moseley scored from mid-range to bring it back to 14-3.
Chelsea Lewis was unlucky to see an effort roll over after a slick bounce pass into her before Moseley’s follow-up effort also failed to drop.
Agbeze picked the ball up under the post and set England on the attack with Harten finishing off the move after combining well with Natalie Haythornthwaite.
Guthrie, who was having a blinder, flew in with another intercept and England transitioned through court with a Harten penalty handing the Roses a 21-5 lead at the end of the first quarter.
An unchanged seven took to court for England at the start of Q2 and they were quickly back up and running.
There was real fluidity to the England attack with some lovely shooter to shooter play – Housby added another to her tally after a beautifully weighted pass from Harten.
The Roses were working effectively as a unit in defence with a Beth Cobden steal driving England forward once again.
Harten saw a shot roll agonisingly around, Wales transitioned through the court and a lofted feed into the circle was converted.
GIANTS Netball teammates Guthrie and Harten were combining nicely in attack and the relaxed GS stretched England’s lead to 32-7 with eight minutes until the break.
Chelsea Pitman joined the action in place of Haythornthwaite at WA halfway through the second quarter as England continued to dominate.
Housby was unlucky to see an effort fail to drop but Harten was on hand to pick up the ball and score from right under the post.
Moments later, Harten got another after excellent work once again from Cobden to turnover the ball and England led 45-10 at half-time.
Neville made several changes for the start of Q3 with Jade Clarke coming on at WD, Housby moving to GS, Haythornthwaite taking the GA bib and Eboni Beckford-Chambers (GD) and Jodie Gibson (GK) pairing up in defence.
Gibson was straight into the heart of the action, picking up the ball after a Wales effort failed to drop in and getting England on their way again.
A top feed into Lewis took it to 48-11 but England responded in kind with Housby popping the ball off to Haythornthwaite, who got another on the board.
Wales’ Llewelyn appeared to have picked off a pass from Pitman to Beckford-Chambers but she was unable to keep hold of the ball and England’s most capped player, Clarke, pounced.
Gibson then showed her athleticism flying in to intercept and Haythornthwaite rewarded her teammate’s good reading of the game to put England 64-18 ahead.
Suzy Drane did well to create space for Wales and then pick out Lewis, who took her side up to 19.
England got all 12 players on court once again with Kadeen Corbin coming on at the start of the final 15.
The Roses had scored 74 goals in their wins against Scotland and Malawi, but sharp shooting saw them record their highest score of the competition so far against Wales and they led 80-25 with five minutes remaining.
A lovely passage of play, involving Wales moving the ball swiftly through court and a good take from Team Bath’s Lewis, took the score to 82-28 to England.
The Roses displayed intensity, commitment, determination, drive and passion as they sealed the win and remain unbeaten.
England’s final Pool B fixture sees them face New Zealand on Wednesday (first centre-pass at midnight).
Full stats on the match are available here.
England starting 7: GS – Harten, GA – Housby, WA – Haythornthwaite, C – Guthrie, WD – Cobden, GD – Agbeze, GK – Mentor
Wales starting 7: GS – Lewis, GA – Llewelyn, WA – Varey, C – K.Jones, WD – Drane, GD – N.Jones, GK – Thomas
A Gutsy performance from both sides